July 31, 2007

Making It New (again): The Art and Style of Sara & Gerald Murphy

“Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara & Gerald Murphy,” curated by Deborah Rothschild. Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Through Nov. 11. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, February 26 - May 4, 2008; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, June 8, 2008 - September 14, 2008. See images.

Ken Johnson reports in the Boston Globe: "It wasn't for lack of appreciation that Gerald Murphy quit painting so soon after creating these works. His paintings were included in numerous Paris exhibitions, and they were praised by critics and other artists. It was, rather, a series of unrelated reversals of fortune that precipitated his retirement from painting and, eventually, his return to America with Sara and their near-complete withdrawal from the world of modern art....These events would be enough to explain Gerald's early retirement from painting. But there was something else, too, something in Gerald's psyche that warrants consideration. It seems that he was tormented for most of his life by what he called in private letters his 'defect,' a term then commonly used as a euphemism for homosexuality. To what extent he may have acted on his attraction to men is not known, but it is certain that he was ashamed of it, that he struggled to repress it in himself, and that he wanted to keep it secret."Read more.

Peter Schjeldahl writes in The New Yorker: "Gerald and Sara Murphy, moderately wealthy and irrepressibly sociable Jazz Age American expatriates in France, would be mainly deluxe gossip, filtered through their friend F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 'Tender Is the Night,' in which they figure as the charismatic Dick and Nicole Diver...(but) Gerald’s paintings are a gold standard that backs, with creative integrity, the paper money of the couple’s legend. He started by assisting on sets for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with quick lessons from the painter Natalia Goncharova. His work consists of crisply hard-edged, cunningly composed, subtly colored, semi-abstract pictures of machinery, common objects, architectural fragments, and, in a disturbing final image, a wasp battening on a pear. Numerous influences are plain, but Gerald jumped ahead of his time with a laconic style that was prescient of big-scale abstraction and of Pop art." Read more.

Alexandra Anderson-Spivy on artnet: "Extensive private ephemera, family memorabilia and a touching video, featuring the surviving Murphy daughter Honoria, help to personalize the Murphy saga. The heavy documentation makes this show almost more of an excursion into cultural history than it is an art exhibition. The show and its catalogue also confront very personal aspects of the Murphys’ life, including Gerald’s previously under-explored struggle with a narcissistic sense of inner emptiness and his bisexual impulses." Read more.

Courbet biography: Dirty laundry is the emperor’s new clothes

“The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture” (Princeton; $45), by Petra ten-Doesschate Chu

Peter Schjeldahl's review in the New Yorker: "Gustave Courbet relished scandal as a shortcut to prominence at a time when, for artists, official honors and patronage were losing cachet to notoriety in the popular press and success in the commercial markets....The book advances a present tendency among art historians to reconsider the Old Masters with reference to the art worlds that allocated wealth and prestige in their times. This emphasis is a sign of our own times, when money and celebrity—proliferating fairs and biennials, roaring auctions, around-the-clock Web journals and blogs—exalt the grandstand plays of a Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, or Matthew Barney. Chu’s treatment of Courbet isn’t cynical, exactly; it acknowledges his artistic talent. But, by highlighting every possible instance of manipulation, Chu gives a puppetlike cast to the behavior of the artist and his contemporaries. That’s timely, too; some days in Chelsea galleries it’s hard not to feel like a laboratory animal, grubbing for cheese in a scientifically engineered maze." Read more.

July 30, 2007

At long last, the visual arts are well represented at Edinburgh festival

Ruaridh Nicoll reports in The Observer: "Not long ago, artists would complain about the degraded place the visual arts occupied at the festival. Sure, the various galleries would do their thing. Openings would take place around now each year but they would be exclusive affairs. Brian McMaster, the previous director of the International Festival, had shrugged off the visual arts. Timothy Clifford, the former director of the National Galleries, had little empathy towards the contemporary. The city's commercial galleries were, not unreasonably, preoccupied with selling the work of the current Royal Scottish Academicians. Then came Richard Ingleby. He shifted the city up a gear. His artists have international clout, painters such as Howard Hodgkin, Alison Watt, Callum Innes, and the sculptor, now sadly gone, Ian Hamilton Finlay. Ingleby's arrival was followed by Susanna Beaumont, with Doggerfisher. Doggerfisher's summer show is, serendipitously, the Turner contender, Nathan Coley." Read more.

July 29, 2007

Rogue NYC galleries open in August

In the NYTimes, Seth Kugel provides a listing of galleries that are open in August: "We're approaching August in Manhattan, when the island pulls a mini-Paris and coughs up a sizable chunk of its population, spraying the natives Jackson Pollock-like onto the beaches and into the country homes of the New York region. That may mean easy restaurant reservations and plenty of room to play Frisbee in the park, but for those who love the energy of New York’s countless and varied art galleries, it’s a problem. Chelsea’s blocks of galleries become a ghost town in August. And on weekends, even the ghosts flee to the Hamptons. But there are enough galleries open elsewhere in the city to fill a Saturday, many of them a few subway stops away in the adjoining neighborhoods of SoHo and the Lower East Side. They range from the one-guy-in-a-tiny-room-tending-to-works-of-emerging-artists kind to the elegantly appointed, lusciously air-conditioned places where both the prices and the ceilings can be astonishingly high. Some are even open on, gasp, Sunday." Read more.

Cuchifritos, at the southern end of the Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street, between Delancey and Rivington Streets, (212) 598-4124; www.aai-nyc.org/cuchifritos. Monday-Saturday, noon to 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, 237 Eldridge Street, between Houston and Stanton Streets, (212) 253-0700; www.sundaynyc.com. Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Thierry Goldberg Projects, 5 Rivington Street. between Chrystie Street and the Bowery, (212) 967-2260; www.thierrygoldberg.com. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m to 6 p.m.

Jen Bekman Gallery, 6 Spring Street, between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street, (212) 219-0166; www.jenbekman.com. Wednesday-Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.

Envoy, 131 Chrystie Street, between Broome and Delancey Streets, (212) 226-4555; www.envoygallery.com. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Arcadia Fine Arts, 51 Greene Street, between Broome and Grand Streets, (212) 965-1387; www.arcadiafinearts.com. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Westwood Gallery, 568 Broadway, fifthfloor, between Prince and Houston Streets, (212) 925-5700; www.westwoodgallery.com. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May close for part of August.

Jonathan Shorr Gallery, 109 Crosby Street, between Prince and Houston Streets, (212) 334-1199; www.jonathanshorrgallery.com. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Il Lee ballpoint pen drawings at the Queens Museum

"Il Lee: Ballpoint Drawings," curated by Joanna Kleinberg. The Queens Museum of Art, New York. Through Sept. 30, 2007.

The Queens Museum of Art introduces the work of Il Lee (b. 1952), a Korean-born artist living and working in Brooklyn since 1977. Using disposable ballpoint pens, Lee creates dramatic ink fields on surfaces of canvas and paper. For this exhibition, he will present a selection of large format blue and black ink drawings, including early experimental studies and an impressive fifty-foot installation—his largest work to date. Read the press release.

Benjamin Genocchio in the NYTimes: "His drawings on canvas are meticulously primed with five layers of acrylic mat gel, each layer spread evenly with a knife before he begins to draw. Surface is paramount, with the gel primer preventing the ink from encroaching on the canvas; instead, it pools into a smooth wash on the surface, gradually obliterating the pen strokes. The process is different in the works on paper, which are not treated before he begins to draw. The heavy white paper stock retains an impression of each pen stroke, resulting in an incised, dappled surface texture. And of course the ink seeps into the paper and bonds with it. Sometimes Mr. Lee applies so many pen strokes over weeks and months that the layers of ink become encrusted and gritty....What makes this work so alluring is its unexpected suggestiveness. When Mr. Lee’s drawings conjure before you a soft, densely inked snowflakelike blob with feathery edges, or a pattern that recalls a distant constellation, or foliage, or even stones in a pool of clear, shallow water, it is hard not to be mesmerized. The simple, minimal forms are instinctively seductive." Read more.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker reviewed Il Lee's recent show at the San Jose Museum of Art (closed July 7) "I wish I had seen sooner the stirring show of abstractions by Korean-born New York artist Il Lee at the San Jose Museum of Art. More than 20 years ago Lee, now in his mid 50s, began working with one of the few marking tools underrepresented in contemporary art: the ballpoint pen. He moves it at a speed that leaves in the dust its function as a writing tool or even a drawing tool. 'BL-060' (2005) looks like a mountain landscape, a subject deeply rooted in the Asian arts. But in a close view, imagery dissolves and process comes forward." Read more.

July 28, 2007

MOMA paintings bring the outdoors indoors

Holland Cotter suggests a mini-vacation to see the paintings at MOMA this summer: "In the hot months artists have traditionally fled Paris and New York, but only to take working vacations. They went to the country for refreshment — to wash the studio light from their eyes, as Georges Seurat put it — but also to capture an image of nature on the spot, and to store the memory of it for later use. So why not follow them on their summer travels — to the Riviera and Long Island, Provence and Cape Cod — by which I mean up and down the Modern’s escalators to different galleries on different floors? Let the artists give you a tour." Read more.

July 27, 2007

Paintings at at Lennon Weinberg: "Taking Shape"

Frank Holliday reviews the show in the Gay City News: "Painting is not very suited to today's pace. We live on quick fixes and instant consumerism. Painting takes a long time to harness before convention can be fearlessly thrown out and deeper, profoundly abandoned subjects can emerge." Read more.

"Shape is a word that refers to many things: the identity of a specific form, something seen in outline, an assumed appearance, an organized form of expression, an orderly arrangement, condition or state of repair. The idiomatic phrase "take shape" means 'to assume a distinctive form.' Each artist in thisexhibition uses shape as a significant element in the conception and execution of their work. In their hands, shapes can be entirely abstract or descriptive of a concrete state. Or both." Artists include: Polly Apfelbaum, Daniel Carello, Shirley Jaffe, Jenifer Kobylarz, Harriet Korman, Stephen Mueller, Beth Reisman, Beth Reisman, Andrew Spence, Stephen Westfall. Read more on ArtCal."Taking Shape," Lennon, Weinberg Gallery, New York, NY. Through Sept. 15. See images.

NYTimes Friday art reviews: a few paintings at Jack Shainman and Casey Kaplan

Read more.
"THE COLOR LINE," Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY. Through Aug. 3. Holland Cotter: "The artist Odili Donald Odita shaped this group exhibition around, among other things, a knot of prickly questions related to the idea of race as defined by skin color: race as a biological fiction; as a social fact; as a theme of art; as an aesthetic link between cultures, in this case Africa and its multihued diasporas." Artists include: Olu Oguibe, Kerry James Marshall, Stanley Whitney. See images.

"GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT," Casey Kaplan, New York, NY. Through Tuesday. Holland Cotter: "This mostly Californian group show is the brainchild of the estimable Los Angeles-based art critic Bruce Hainley. And it feels a little like his writing: smart, buzzy, mordant, uncanonical, the kind of writing that makes most of the rest of us sound like uptight schoolteachers. In 'Good Morning, Midnight'— the title is from a Jean Rhys novel — Mr. Hainley sends up a few thematic balloons, but he keeps them light and drifting." Artists include: Leica Dole-Recio, Brian Calvin, Jeff Burton, Jasper Johns, George Kuchar See images.

July 26, 2007

New Narratives: Contemporary Art From India

Alan G. Artner declares in the Chicago Tribune: "This is a show so full of works embodying meaning that it makes the Western fondness for tacked on 'concepts' almost inexcusable. Thanks to the Department of Cultural Affairs for welcoming Betty Seid, a Chicago-based independent curator (with past ties to the Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Institute of Chicago), who wanted to explore uncharted territory." Artists include Jayashree Chakravarty, Sheba Chhachhi, Anju Dodiya, Atul Dodiya, Anita Dube, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, N. S. Harsha, Tushar Joag, Ranbir Kaleka, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, Nalini Malani, Pushpamala N, Tejal Shah, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Valay Shende, Arpita Singh, Vivan Sundaram, Vasudha Thozhur and Hema Upadhyay.Read more. "New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India," Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL. Through Sept. 23

Somerville: Boston's Williamsburg

Greg Cook reports in The Phoenix: "Boston art can often seem constipated. This is an academic, institutional city...Somerville, though, has become a bastion for the wild and woolly. One sign is the city’s public festivals: the Meet Under McGrath open-air dance party this past August, held under the godforsaken overpass where the McGrath Highway bridges Washington Street; the Fluff Festival, a tribute to the corporate confection in Union Square this past September; the Honk Fest, a gathering of and performance by radical marching bands from across North America in Davis Square this past October. Another sign is the Somerville 'art gangs' — the Lady Cougars, the Miracle 5, and the Olde Ghosts — rounded up in the group exhibition 'Leave the Light On' at Somerville’s Nave Gallery. They have in common a punky illustrative goth bent, and a rascally sense of humor. 'I don’t think any of us take ourselves too seriously,' says the Lady Cougars’ Beth Driscoll, who organized the show. It’s an uneven exhibit, but it’s energized by their attitude." Read more. "Leave the Light On" Nave Gallery, Powderhouse Square, Somerville, MA. Through August 5, 2007 See slide show.

The Provincetown beat

Provincetown, MA, unlike most tourist hotspots, has a serious gallery scene. Exhibitions, crammed full of paintings, change every two weeks. Openings are on Friday nights.Current listingsfrom the Provincetown Banner. Check out the American modernist painter Edwin Dickinson's show at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Reviewed by Randi Hopkins in The Phoenix. Read more.

July 25, 2007

The branding of Mona Lisa: a lesson for young artists

Mary Blume reports in the International Herald Tribune: "If, as André Malraux said, museums do not simply exhibit masterpieces but create them, Sassoon adds that they need to be written about, publicized, to reach iconic status and in mid-19th-century France, more than anywhere else, men and women of letters wrote extensively on the arts. In Sassoon's words, Mona Lisa was repositioned, one might almost say re-branded, by the poet and respected art critic Théophile Gautier, who wrote about her as a disturbing smiling sphinx - 'the sinuous, serpentine mouth, turned up at the corners in a violet penumbra' - and transformed her into the voguish figure of decades to come: the femme fatale. 'This canvas attracts me, revolts me, consumes me, and I go to her in spite of myself, as the bird to the snake,' breathed the historian Jules Michelet. Read more.

Hirst buys Insects

Colin Gleadel reports in the Telegraph's Market News: "Last week Damien Hirst bought an entire exhibition before it had even opened. Clearly flush from his £130 million sell-out exhibition at White Cube (bar the diamond skull), he spent £500,000 on works by artist/designer Paul Insect, which went on view at the Lazarides Gallery in Soho on Friday." Read more.

An Iraqi artist's response to an unfathomable reality

Maymanah Farhat reports on electroniciraq.net: "The fundamental nature and creative force that has propelled the evolution of Iraqi art is what curator Ulrike al-Khamis has described as 'Its conscious and committed attempt to create a synthesis between historical Iraqi art forms and modernism.' Concurrently, modern and contemporary Iraqi art has remained impacted by that endured by its people. Whereas the function of art and its role in a given society continues to be disputed, for nearly a century art has negotiated every defining juncture of Iraqi society for the majority of its artists--whether political, historical or cultural." Read more.

Hearts, Minds, and Abstract Expressionism

For more on the relationship between government funding and international art collaborations between institutions, check out "Arts and Minds," an article I wrote for the October issue of The American Prospect. In the article, I examine the new State Department/American Association of Museums program for funding overseas arts projects, through which the U.S. government hopes to win hearts and minds. --S.L. Butler

Peter Gibbs reports in the Nelson Mail: "Curator Anna-Marie White has put together 'Cold War - Abstract Expressionism from the Suter Collection.' The scene for the selection is set with an essay which postulates that the American CIA used abstract art as an anti-communist tool in fighting the Cold War. This theory is backed by art scholars and popular writers in magazines such as the New Yorker. The claim is that the promotion of abstract expressionism in post-war Europe helped to indoctrinate western Europeans with democratic ideals. Once European intellectuals saw the freedom with which westerners could express themselves, they would presumably be swayed into thinking democracy was a desirable ideology." Read more."Cold War, Abstract Expressionism," Suter Collection, New Zealand. Continues through August 19.

In his 2005 New Yorker essay about Abstract Expressionism and the Cold War Louis Menand says: "The target audience for cultural propaganda in the Cold War was foreign élites—in particular, left-wing intellectuals and avant-garde writers and artists who might still have some attachment, sincere, sentimental, or opportunistic, to Communism and the Soviet Union. The essence of the courtship was: it’s possible to be left-wing, avant-garde, and anti-Communist. Look at these American artists and intellectuals, happily criticizing bourgeois capitalism and shocking mainstream tastes, all safely protected by the laws of a free society. In Russia, these people would be in the Lubyanka, or somewhere north of the Arctic Circle."Read more.

July 24, 2007

Personal Jesus: worshiping Warhol and Haring together

Kurt Shaw reports in the Pittsbrugh Tribune-Review: " There is a kind of poetic logic in the fact that Warhol and Haring created religiously inspired works at the end of their careers. Haring owned one of Warhol's Last Supper paintings, and Warhol collaborated with Haring on more than one occasion. But the intertwining of the latter part of both of these artists' oeuvres in this exhibit is something telling in an overwhelmingly new way." Read more. "Personal Jesus: The Religious Art Of Keith Haring & Andy Warhol," Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. Through Sept. 2.

Mary Thomas reports in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Tucked within a broader exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum is a remarkably good and large selection of works by Keith Haring (1958-1990). Haring, like Warhol, has often been represented one-dimensionally as a graffiti artist known for his inimitable jumpy, reduced, graphic figures. But, like Warhol, his artistic output was more varied and distinguished than what is popularly recognized. And, like Warhol, his personal life was more complex than may be easily encompassed in a sound bite." Read more.

Looking at the Serra show from a painter's perspective

Blogger Joanne Mattera writes: "The mottled and scratched surface texture, always interesting, reveals itself in daylight to be something more like skin: thick here, thin there, pocked, shiny, flaky, smooth. Or skins, plural: human, animal, mammalian, amphibian. Or planetary: a sandy strand, a lunar crust, a Martian landscape. There are red-orange tracks formed by liquid (rain?), and deep gouges, perhaps wrought in installation. Wherever the treated surface of the metal is rent, there is rust—pits, scars, scabs, craters." Read more. "Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years," Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Through September 10, 2007

Last chance to see "Colorfield Remix" in DC

CBSnews.com reported: "A city-wide celebration called "Colorfield Remix" features some 30 different exhibits honoring the homegrown Washington Color School. The Washington Color School was in it's heyday in the 1960s and was comprised of a small group of painters who were making big, bright works known as Color Field paintings: Artists like Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis who's multi-striped canvases are the major inspiration for this paint-in." Read more. Displays of Color Field paintings at local museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; The National Museum for Women in the Arts; The Phillips Collection; and Smithsonian American Art Museum / An exhibition at The Kreeger Museum of paintings and drawings by Gene Davis, a native Washingtonian and one of the Washington Color School's most recognized figures / A public art project directed by the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Students will paint stripes on Eighth Street between D and E streets NW The project, inspired by the 1987 commemorative street painting based on a Gene Davis work / The display at the National Gallery of Art of Helen Frankenthaler’s 1952 “Mountains and Sea,” a crucial painting in the development of the Color Field movement. / "Colorfield Remix," through the end of July.

"My Name is Alan and I Paint Pictures" premieres at the NY International Independent Film Festival

"After nearly six years of production, director/producer Johnny Boston has completed his feature length documentary titled, 'My Name is Alan and I Paint Pictures,' a film that documents the life of Alan Russell Cowan which is slated for its US Premiere with the NY International Independent Film Festival on July 25. After winning the honor of Best Documentary at the Monaco Film Festival, this New York story comes home....Alan Streets, as he refers to himself, is a painter struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. Alan sets up his easel every day and paints canvases of the New York urban landscape from the Upper East Side to the Bronx and everywhere in between. 'My Name is Alan and I Paint Pictures' follows the artist from the suburbs of London to the wards of Bellevue Hospital in New York City and back out on to the streets." Read the press release from Raw Films. Watch a clip on YouTube. See images of Alan's paintings. Visit the official website for "My Name is Alan and I Paint Pictures"

July 23, 2007

Harwood Museum presents Diebenkorn's work from grad school

Kyle MacMillan reports in the Denver Post: "With a painting from Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park" series in almost every major art museum in the country, it would certainly seem he is something of a known commodity by now. And to a large degree, he is. But as an important summer exhibition at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos makes abundantly clear, the story of this great California abstractionist has not been fully told. A chapter that has long been overlooked, or at least underappreciated, is a pivotal 30-month period in 1950-52 that he spent pursuing a master's degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. This traveling show, 'Diebenkorn in New Mexico,' offers the first in-depth examination of this time, with more than 50 paintings and works on paper from an array of public institutions and private collections." Read more. "Diebenkorn in New Mexico," Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM. through Sept. 9.

Claude Monet's unknown drawings and sketches at the Clark Art Institute

Ken Johnson in the Boston Globe: "For Monet, the drawing problem was twofold. Practically, his drawing skills were not up to academic standards. And he was temperamentally disinclined to submit to the conservative authority of academic rules and regulations. So even if it is true that Monet continued to draw through his career, what is more importantly true is that to realize himself as an artist, he had to reject the idea of drawing as foundational. To become an artist he had to become an outlaw and break out of the prison that was academic drawing." Read more. "The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings," Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA. Through Sept. 16.

iona rozeal brown and Clare Woods in Los Angeles

In LA Times' "Around the Galleries' column Holly Myers recommends Brown at Sandroni Rey Gallery and Clare Woods at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery: "The painter iona rozeal brown has been circling the same relatively narrow territory since completing her graduate degree at Yale five years ago: the unlikely — or at least counterintuitive — intersection of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints (traditionally produced between the 17th and 20th centuries) and contemporary American hip-hop culture. It is the sort of niche that could confine an artist as easily as distinguish her. But Brown hasn't yet reached that point, judging from her third solo show at Sandroni Rey....The paintings in London-based artist Clare Woods' second solo show at the Karyn Lovegrove Gallery are landscapes on the verge of disintegration, viewed not from the comfortable distance of a vista but from about the level of a foxhole. In the foreground, one discerns the post of a fence, perhaps, a mangled gate or the suggestion of grasses and leaves. Behind this, pictorial chaos reigns" Read more. iona rozeal brown, Sandroni Rey, Los Angeles, CA. Through Aug. 11. Clare Woods, Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Through July 28.

Hudson River School painters at the New-York Historical Society

Martha Schwendener in the NYTimes: "Ah, summer. Time to venture into the great American outdoors — or at least consider the concept by paying a visit to the New-York Historical Society. Because, as the exhibition “Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School” argues, the notion of an American landscape brimming with sacred sites is as much a cultural invention as an accident of nature." Artists include Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John F. Kensett, Jasper F. Cropsey and Albert Bierstadt. Read more. “Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School,” New-York Historical Society, NY. Through Jan. 13.

July 22, 2007

NYTimes Friday art reviews: Alex Hay

Roberta Smith reviews: "Alex Hay’s paintings have always operated in the unlikely gap between modernist abstraction and a precise form of rendering that relates to both Pop Art and Photo Realism...This show takes him into new terrain with six paintings completed from 2003 to 2007, which get better as they go along. They are scaled-up images of the surfaces of scraps of weathered boards generated by maintenance on the old hotel where Mr. Hay lives in Bisbee, Ariz. In other words, they are found abstractions and are painstakingly replicated with spray paint and stencils (no brushes)." Read more."Alex Hay: New Paintings," Peter Freeman, 560 Broadway, NY. Through July 27

Martín Ramírez drawings at the San Jose Museum of Art

Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle: "These days, art museums frequently introduce important exhibitions with orientation materials. They seldom enlist another institution to do it for them, as the San Jose Museum of Art has with its visually gripping exhibition 'Martín Ramírez.' Stop first at San Jose's Mexican Heritage Plaza, where two large rooms full of photographs, maps, artifacts and text panels evoke the life and world of Ramírez....Like countless Mexican men before him and since, he and several friends decided in 1925 to try their luck in the United States. His wife was pregnant at the time with a son he would never see. The mining and railroad industries welcomed immigrant labor with few questions asked; and for a time, he worked fairly steadily in California and sent money home. Then larger events intervened. The Cristero Rebellion -- a militant Catholic attempt to overthrow Mexico's secular government -- broke out. Soon after the brutal suppression of the rebellion, the 1929 stock market crash devastated the American economy, spurring a backlash against migrant workers that resulted in mass deportations. Ramírez somehow avoided deportation. But through an apparent misreading of letters from his family, he had already decided never to return to Mexico, believing that the Cristero Rebellion had irreparably divided his household when it consumed his property. In 1931, the San Joaquin County police arrested him for vagrancy. And believing him incoherent, perhaps because of their own inability to speak Spanish, they had him committed to Stockton State Hospital." Read more. "Martín Ramírez: Drawings," San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, and at the Mexican Heritage Plaza La Galeria. Through Sept. 9.

Roberta Smith review of the Martín Ramírez exhibition, which originated at the American Folk Art Museum in New York: "Whatever ideas about art you hold dear, expect them to be healthily destabilized here. If a purely visual, white-cube experience of the autonomous art object is your thing, you may be startled by the illuminating correlations between the artist’s newly excavated biography and his pulsating images."Read more.

Sublime portraits of children reveal evolving notions of innocence

Children in portraits were first depicted only as tiny adults, little devils, or props to their parents' ambition. In The Guardian, Antonia Fraser charts the evolution from brats to innocents as art reflected changing attitudes to childhood throughout Europe "Fifty years after Montaigne, a neighbour reassured a woman who had recently given birth to her fifth 'little brat' in the following, seemingly callous, words: 'Don't worry. Before they are old enough to bother you, you will have lost half of them, or perhaps all of them.'"Read more.
"The Changing Face of Childhood: British Children's Portraits and Their Influence in Europe," Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. From August 1 to November 4.

July 21, 2007

NY Magazine features Chelsea gallery recommendations

In New York Magazine, Karen Rosenberg asks, given “an afternoon in Chelsea: which shows are worth the sweltering slog?” Before all the galleries close and their staffs make the customary late-summer retreat to cooler climes, she offers this guide to the season’s final must-sees. Several include painting. Read more.

Unrehearsed expressiveness in art

Kenneth Baker in The San Francisco Chronicle recommends The Passionate Gesture: "Hackett-Freedmaninvites us to think about whether and how we can recognize unrehearsed expressiveness in art. Modernism staked itself on fresh starts, or faith in them, again and again. Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Constructivism, on down to Pop Art, minimalism and conceptual art -- all purported to originate or restart some project of formal, political or aesthetic progress. To this day, the search for something novel in individual temperament, or in the solidarity of an artistic cohort, has not abated, although nowadays the art market seeks it even more aggressively than do young artists themselves.” Read more. "The Passionate Gesture," Artists include Bluhm, Diebenkorn, Ferber, Goldberg, Hofmann, Hodgkin, Kline, Lobdell, Neri, Vicente, Woelffer. Hackett-Freedman, San Francisco, California. Through Aug 31.

July 20, 2007

From the archives: Donald Kuspit on Sean Scully

On artnet, Donald Kuspit's erudite review of Sean Scully's show (Sept. 26, 2006-Jan. 15, 2007) at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art. For anyone interested in art criticism, it's worth a (re)read. Read more.

"In Her Own Right: Minnesota’s First Generation of Women Artists" at the Minnesota Museum of American Art

Marianne Combs in a Minnesota Public Radio broadcast about pioneering work by Minnesota's first professional women painters: "Any story about American women artists involves grit and determination, even today. But this is particularly true of these first Minnesota women. The exhibition, titled "In Her Own Right" focuses on five painters. Minnesota Museum of American Art Curator Theresa Downing says they stood out not only for the strength of their work and the length of their careers but also for their leadership. 'Several of them founded art galleries, artist colonies, they taught in our institutions. So that history--not only their work but their contributions to art-making in Minnesota--is quite compelling,' says Downing." Artists: Frances Cranmer Greenman, Alice Hügy, Clara Mairs, Josephine Lutz Rollins and Ada Wolfe. Read more. Hear Audio. See images. "In Her Own Right," Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, Minnesota, through October 28.

What is painting?

'What Is Painting?" The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Through September 17

In The Village Voice, R.C. Baker recommends the show: "This big, brightly didactic survey of painting movements since roughly 1965 feels a bit like the Astor Place Kmart—blocky white spaces filled with disparate goods of mixed quality. Culled from MOMA's collection, the paintings are generally hung in groups of four so that affinities or clashes between artists and styles come at you from all points of the compass....John Baldessari's own text painting could be an epitaph for this column or any other critique, reading in part: 'Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.' Amen, brother."Read more.

Daniel Kunitz in the NY Sun: "The delightful proposition of "What Is Painting?" — a broad survey of art from the 1960s to today, drawn from the Museum of Modern Art's contemporary collection — is that we have utterly lost our way: We no longer have any idea what painting is, and we are much better for it. Loosely chronological and with an equally relaxed thematic structure, the show makes its argument largely through the variety and quality of the work on view." Read more.

Dan Bischoff writes in The Star-Ledger: ""What Is Painting?" is a summer show at the Museum of Modern Art, a discrete sampling of the museum's vaults that has hung 50 paintings in a series of 12 open galleries, sort of like a party held in a hotel hallway. A really expensive party, of course....The open ar rangement of mini-"galleries" is meant to allow the visitor to make visual correspondences across time and styles, but it also suggests a certain continuity of cultural confusion that arcs across the entire post-modernist era." Read more.

Edward Hopper sale in Pennsylvania: early works on paper

Geoff Gehman of The Morning Call reports: "On Saturday, the 125th anniversary of Edward Hopper's birth, eDavid Gallery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will open a show-sale of 27 works on paper Hopper made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before he became a household name. All but four of the drawings are owned by Bruce Loch, who runs the Thurston Royce Gallery of Fine Art in the Allentown headquarters of his accounting and real-estate firms....Loch, who grew up in New Tripoli, acquired the Hoppers through a Manhattan gallery that represents the seller, the Rev. Arthayer R. Sanborn, who was a family friend in Hopper's hometown of Nyack, N.Y. Sanborn received the works in 1968, the year after he helped bury Hopper, from Josephine (Jo) Hopper, the artist's wife, model, champion and nemesis." Read more.

Ink on paper at Gallery Joe

Edith Newhall reviews of the show in The Philadelphia Inquirer: "In the lush Philadelphia summer, with vivid color running rampant, ink on paper can look as crisp and smart as Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. That's the immediate effect of "Ink!", Gallery Joe's summer group show, organized by assistant gallery director Sarah Holloran. But a closer look at the ink-on-paper works of its 11 artists reveals how complex and labor-intensive most of them are behind that first contrast-y punch. Atticus Finch's straightforward seersucker they are not." Artists include Martin Wilner, Samantha Simpson, Sharyn O'Mara, Linn Meyers, Gil Kerlin, Simon Frost, Roland Flexner, Jacob El Hanani, Emily Brown, Astrid Bowlb, William Anastasi Read more. "Ink!" Gallery Joe, Philadelphia, PA, through July 28.

July 19, 2007

Fadia Haddad retrospective: fluttering between the chaos of life and death

Farah Aridi writes in The Daily Star: "Amid the mayhem of Lebanon's current crisis combo of security concern, political deadlock, institutional meltdown and existential dread, there is still some respite to be found in art. Many galleries in the Lebanese capital have suspended their exhibitions for the summer. Others have postponed single-artist shows and are exhibiting gallery stock until the situation in the country stabilizes. A rare and courageous few are continuing their programming as planned. One such gallery is Alice Mogabgab, whose quiet, colorful first-floor space overlooks the raucous main drag that runs through the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh. From now through the end of September, Mogabgab has turned over her gallery to a 15-year retrospective for Fadia Haddad, a Lebanese artist who lives and works in Paris." Read more. Fadia Haddad's exhibition is on view at Galerie Alice Mogabgab in Gemmayzeh, Lebanon, through September 31.

Neil Jenney resurfaces at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

In the NYTimes, Grace Glueck reports: "Whoa! Could this be the work of Neil Jenney, a star of the 1970s Neo-Expressionist movement, who first intrigued the art world with his so-called “Bad” paintings but has stayed away from the scene for many years?...Apart from their mild, unassertive message, what the paintings convey is that Mr. Jenney is a painter of remarkable technical skills whose feeling for color, texture and form can stand up to the best of the American landscapists that he has studied over the years." Read more.

In the Boston Globe, Ken Johnson covers Neil Jenney's show at the Aldrich Museum. "Neil Jenney sells his magically luminous landscapes out of his own studio. Although he has been included in the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale, and many other important group exhibitions, he has not had a solo show of new works in a commercial gallery in almost 20 years. His last in an American museum was a small display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994. So the Aldrich exhibition is a rare and welcome opportunity to study recent works by this fascinating, richly idiosyncratic artist." Read more.

"Neil Jenney, North America" The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, through Sept. 3.

Clive Owen and George Clooney in forgers' tale

Vanessa Thorpe reports in The Observer: "The extraordinary story of how British forgers John Myatt and John Drewe joined together to con art experts and some of the world's most prominent private collectors over seven years is to be turned into a Hollywood film, with George Clooney and Clive Owen tipped to play the leading roles. Myatt and Drewe were convicted of fraud in 1998 and sent to prison. Myatt, who promptly admitted his guilt and repented, served only four months in jail and has become a celebrated figure in the art world. Drewe still professes his innocence, after serving a six-year sentence. But whatever the pair say about their plot, from the moment they were charged and their case went public, writers and film-makers have vied for the rights." Read more.

Jeff Koons on feeling good

In Graeme Green's sixty second Metro interview with Jeff Koons, Koons declares "I like to make people feel good about themselves and connected with themselves, so that they trust in themselves. It’s not just to make people feel good about themselves, but so that they then have the security to really achieve their potential. If people don’t accept themselves, they have no foundation in life. That’s really what that’s about." His exhibitions Hulk Elvis and Popeye at the Gagosian Gallery in London end on July 27.:Read more.

Ada and Alex Katz donate paintings from their collection to Colby College Museum of Art

David Cohen reports in The New York Sun: "In 2004, Alex Katz, who turns 80 next week, launched a foundation to collect contemporary art. This is something he and his wife, Ada, had been doing for some years, presenting works, for instance, to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. But the main recipient of a concentrated period of recent purchases has been the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, where a new exhibit shows off the bulk of his donations." Read more.

July 18, 2007

SAM slam

Lee Rosenbaum Lee Rosenbaum reports today in the Wall Street Journal: "Most museums expand to make room for their existing permanent collections. The Seattle Art Museum expanded, to 268,000 from 150,000 square feet, so that it could persuade local donors to augment its permanent collection, in time for its 75th anniversary next year. That campaign, successful beyond the wildest curatorial dreams, added nearly 1,000 owned, pledged and promised works to the collection." Rosenbaum sees both the collection and the jarringly disparate installation as works in progress. Read more.

Jen Graves in The Stranger sees it differently: "The way the permanent collection is installed is brilliant, too. Each section is hung in its own way. Disparate collections are linked. Juxtapositions are playful—a taxidermied dog on a plastic chair by the contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan with a Dutch still life with cherries and a butterfly from 1617 by Balthasar van der Ast. Wall labels are opinionated. The whole place has an air of confident, conversational intelligence and in several spots, curators seem to be throwing out the question, 'Why the hell not?'" Read more.

"Lines, Grids, Stains, Words" at MOMA

Sarah Schmerler in The Village Voice: "This smart little offering of Minimalist drawings is curated by Christian Rattemeyer (late of Artists Space). He's scarcely been at the museum two months, and already he's making his mark, mixing and matching periods and makers with impunity and inspiration. Skip the show's rather dull opening wall text: It will tell you that Minimalist drawings (as opposed to Minimalist sculptures) are way more physical, human, and gestural than you'd expect. The works that follow, however, illustrate the point far better." Read more. "Lines, Grids, Stains, Words," The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, NYC. Through October 22

Critics weigh in on Stella Vine's show at Modern Art Oxford

In the Telegraph, Richard Dorment reports a change of heart about Stella Vine's paintings: "Imagine my amazement to discover that there is something to Vine's work after all. True, in terms of the way she actually applies paint to canvas, she isn't a beautiful or exciting artist in the way that, say, Elizabeth Peyton or Cecily Brown can be. But damn it, there's a vitality and truth in her work that can't be faked, and when she's on form she can be coruscatingly funny. She only has one subject, our culture of celebrity and victim-hood, but when she paints expressionistic portraits of the people who clog our brain waves with accounts of their drink/drugs/sex/weight/marriage/divorce/suicide hell, she's bang on the money." Read more.

Maev Kennedy in The Guardian: "Stella Vine may not be nervous, but the gallery director, Andrew Nairne, is petrified. His wife keeps patting him reassuringly on the shoulder, and promising people will remember that he has a track record of admired exhibitions. He is surely right that the images - of supermodel Lily Cole bejewelled in a bath seeping blood, of Kate Moss hung beside a giant portrait of Pete Doherty, and of Courtney Love peeling her knickers off in a London cab - will lure in people who might never normally set foot in his gallery." Read more.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times believes that "Stella Vine's paintings arise from the slightly spooky ambition of a former method actress who has tried to put herself into her character’s persona, to actually become the person she painted....The babydoll palette of Vine’s pictures turns acid. The colours are souring. The mascara runs with tears. The dreams are curdling into the ghastly self-confessional parodies of the reality. The highly polished Vogue aesthetic is turning into the trashy Heat snap. We can’t dismiss these paintings as a mere racket – not in a world in which the racket has become the real thing." Read more.

Lynn Barber interviews Stella Vine in The Observer: “Stella Vine is 38, but still very 'new' as a painter. She only started seven years ago when she took her son Jamie to art classes at Hampstead School of Art and got hooked. At the time she was a stripper and before that an actress. But in 2004 Charles Saatchi saw one of her paintings of Princess Diana ('Hi Paul can you come over, I'm really frightened') in a small East End gallery, bought it for £600, and made it the centrepiece of his New Blood show at County Hall. Critics rubbished it but it didn't matter - where Saatchi goes, collectors follow. She only met him for two minutes but he changed her life.” Read more.

Guardian art blogger Paul Moody says, loathe her or love her, everyone's talking about Stella Vine. Read more Vine gossip.

“Stella Vine: Paintings” Modern Art Oxford,17 July to 23 September

July 17, 2007

At Boston's Allston Skirt Gallery: a small, dark, and stinky slice of the art-world pie

In The Phoenix Sharon Steel writes about "Pull My Finger,” a new group show at the Allston Skirt Gallery, curated by artist Joe Zane: “Artists? They just live for slinging crap — it’s like some kind of unlimited paint supply that’s handy, cheap, and gets them controversy bonus points. Where would museum-worthy pieces like Andres Serrano’s 'Piss Christ,' Chris Ofili’s elephant-dung-festooned 'Holy Virgin Mary,' and Marcel Duchamp’s paean to the urinal 'Fountain' be without nods to bathroom humor? Even so, poop humor is just one small, dark, and stinky slice of the art-world pie. On the same outre track is high-concept, performance-art comedy. 'Pull My Finger,' a new exhibit at the Allston Skirt Gallery is hell-bent on exploring the nexus between these two art tracts.” Artwork includes paintings by Carl Ostendarp; drawings by Michael Smith and Jason Schiedel Read more. Watch the slide show

Read Ken Johnson's take on the show in the Boston Globe.

"Pull My Finger," Allston Skirt Gallery , 65 Thayer Street , Boston, MA. through August 4.

Paintings in the National Gallery: national heritage, art-historical legacy or status symbols?

Chris Bryant reports in The Times: “The news that seven major artworks on loan to the National Gallery, London, might be sold and may leave the country has a depressing air of inevitability. They are magnificent pieces. Titian’s Portrait of a Young is a serene early portrait, less fleshy than others, sparse in colour yet rich in detail. Although it has only been on loan to the National Gallery for 15 years, it sat in Temple Newsam House near Leeds for more than 150 years. Likewise, the five paintings by Nicolas Poussin, the Sacraments, have been on loan only since 2002, but were in the Duke of Rutland’s Belvoir Castle for centuries. And few works could be more important to national heritage than Rubens’s exuberant Apotheosis of King James I, which belongs to Viscount Hampden and may also be up for sale.” Read more.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston rebuts: “The loss rips a hole in the fabric of our heritage. Or does it? Fewer than a half of the paintings are by British artists or artists working in Britain. The rest were, in the first place, acquired from abroad by a nation which had produced no Titians or Rembrandts of its own. Art was a trophy by which competing countries could manifest their power. Paintings were not icons of an art-historical legacy. They were symbols of status. And canvases were swapped between monarchs and connoisseurs and collectors like children swap Pokémon cards in the hope of getting the whole set.” Read more.

July 16, 2007

Georges de La Tour’s long forgotten nocturnes exhibited in UK

Laura Cumming in The Guardian: “It scarcely seems possible that there could be any old masters left to rediscover, yet so it is with the French painter Georges de La Tour, a figure almost as shadowy as his near contemporary Vermeer but much longer hidden from the public….In its typically inventive way, Compton Verney is pairing the old with the new with a show of contemporary art inspired by shadows. The names in Shadows are big - Warhol, Boltanski, Laurie Anderson, Fiona Tan, Mona Hatoum - and the installation is pleasingly creepy. Ideas run low to high, from ghosts to the inevitable Plato and Freud, and naturally there is a glut of photography and film, media that live by shadows.”Read more. “Georges de La Tour: Master of Candlelight/ Shadows” Compton Verney, Warwickshire, through Sept. 9.

At the Boston MFA artists grapple with war

Ken Johnson writes in The Boston Globe: “As the war in Iraq grinds on toward no very clear end, collective reaction to it by contemporary American artists remains muted and uncertain. Two exhibitions responding to the war -- one directly and the other indirectly -- are now on view in Boston: a powerful solo show of recent paintings by the celebrated political artist Jenny Holzer at Barbara Krakow Gallery, and "War and Discontent," a well-meaning but muddled exhibition of historical and contemporary works at the Museum of Fine Arts. Neither exhibition solves the problem of what to do about Iraq, but together they afford a good opportunity to think about how artists grapple with terrible events in the real world.” Read more. “War and Discontent,” Museum of Fine Arts through Aug. 5. Jenny Holzer: Archive,”
Barbara Krakow Gallery, 10 Newbury St., closed June 6.

At the Hammer Museum, Gary Garrels assembles a distinctly Angeleno strain of contemporary visual language

Doug Harvey in the LA Weekly: “One of the most pronounced symptoms of the wide-scale institutionalization of artistic practice has been the rise of curatorial studies as an academic category and the subsequent escalation of the curator’s role and visibility — sometimes to the point of supplanting the place of the artist as the raison d’être of an exhibition. Occasionally this inversion is justified, but more often it stands as sad and stunted evidence of the blahblahblah-ification of what is essentially a complex preverbal multisensory language; just because a picture’s worth a thousand words doesn’t mean those words demand to be spelled out….Which is why it is such a great and unexpected pleasure to come across a museum show like “Eden’s Edge,” a sampler of 15 contemporary Los Angeles artists assembled by the Hammer’s chief curator, Gary Garrels.” Artists: Ginny Bishton, Mark Bradford, Liz Craft, Sharon Ellis, Matt Greene, Elliott Hundley, Stanya Kahn & Harry Dodge, Monica Majoli, Matthew Monahan, Rebecca Morales, Lari Pittman, Ken Price, Jason Rhoades, Anna Sew Hoy, and Jim ShawRead more. “Eden’s Edge: Fifteen L.A. Artists” The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., through September 2

July 15, 2007

Churches draw on the spiritual inspiration of contemporary artists

Valerie Gladstone points out in the NYTimes Travel section: "As a wave of contemporary art installations is being unveiled in cathedrals, churches and chapels across Europe, religious spaces are once again becoming showcases for many artists. In the last year alone, the abstract Spanish artist Miguel Barceló completed a ceramic panorama for the St. Pere Chapel in the Gothic cathedral in Palma, Majorca, and the eclectic German painter Gerhard Richter created a dazzling stained-glass window for the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, which will be unveiled on Aug. 25." Read more.

Karen Kilimnik's Philadelphia salon

Dorothy Spears in the NYTimes: "When Robert Wuilfe, curator of Landmarks Contemporary Projects in Philadelphia, learned of Karen Kilimnik's interest in creating a site-specific installation at the 18th-century Powel mansion he had difficulty containing his enthusiasm. Ms. Kilimnik’s reconstructions of 18th-century salons, featuring portraits of contemporary celebrities like Paris Hilton, decked out as Marie Antoinette, and Leonardo DiCaprio, cast as Prince Albrecht, the male lead in one of her favorite ballets, 'Giselle,' have catapulted the artist to something akin to stardom." Read more.

Mass-produced paintings at Urban Outfitters for $39.99

Cassandra Neyenesch in The Brooklyn Rail: "Mass-produced canvases for sale at Urban Outfitters, though of course decorative, offer a pointed commentary about the way art is produced and thought about and the consumer’s relationship to it." Read more.

July 14, 2007

Venice Biennale: serious and smart

Kim Levin in The Brooklyn Rail: "So many skulls, tibia, ribcages, soldiers in uniform, mortally wounded dolls, and flocks of birds morphing into missiles or warplanes (the way skulls and bones morphed into picks and shovels during the Black Plague) haven’t been seen together in the art world since, well, the Dark Ages....Storr’s show may be apocalyptic, as one critic remarked, or it may, as another concluded, be boring. But it is fiercely intelligent and thoroughly compelling, with a relentless dialogue that ricochets among far-flung works." Read more.

Jerry Saltz in NY Magazine: “If I were in my twenties or thirties, or even (alas) my forties, I can imagine being impressed but also a bit let down and oppressed by it. I’d wonder if this wasn’t partly history being told from the point of view of the victors—a business-as-usual shoring-up rather than research into the mix and morphology of the moment. As Glenn O’Brien observed about German painter Albert Oehlen, who would have added something to this show, ‘There’s only one right way [to do something] but [Oehlen explores] a million brilliant errors.’ Those brilliant errors are missing here.” Read more.

Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker: "For me, the conduciveness to meditation that holds up throughout the acres of new and newish international art in the Biennale’s two main sites—the grandiose Fascist-era Italian Pavilion, featuring, as it usually does, a world-embracing exhibition of putatively top artists, and the quarter-mile-long Arsenale, an ancient facility of the Venetian navy, devoted to emerging talent—borders on the miraculous." Read more.

In the NYTimes, Michael Kimmelman says the VB is "subtle and sober. And, well, yes, maybe it’s just a little boring. But it grows on you." Robert Storr, VB curator, includes work by Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, Sigmar Polke, Susan Rothenberg, Sol LeWitt, Elizabeth Murray.Read more.

Ken Johnson in the Boston Globe: "Called 'Think With the Senses -- Feel With the Mind: Art in the Present Tense,' the exhibition is a strikingly sober affair that awkwardly combines examples of classic Modernist style and works of dry, politically charged Conceptualism. It seems designed to call the art world to task for its free-spending, pleasure-loving ways. Against the carnivalesque spirit of the Biennale as a whole, it aims to set art itself on a path of morally high-minded purpose and steer it away from the dangers of decadent entertainment and flashy spectacle." Read more.

Painter Tony Shore awarded Baltimore's $25,000 Sondheim Prize

Baltimore Sun art critic Glenn McNatt reports that Tony Shore, whose portraits of family and friends painted on black velvet capture the poignant and gritty flavor of working class life in the city, frequently broke into sobs during his acceptance speech. 'This award is an amazing thing for Baltimore, Shore said. 'It not only helps attract artists to the city but also helps keep artists who want to stay here. This prize will ensure that I am a part of Baltimore's cultural community for a long time. It shows how important artists are to this city.'" Read more.

Artist Derrick Adams, Bellwether Gallery owner/director Becky Smith, and Yale University School of Art dean/2007 Venice Biennale commissioner Robert Storr selected the finalists from over 320 Baltimore-area applicants. Earlier in the week, Deborah McLeod described Shore's paintings in the City Paper: “His recurring fables belong to a different tradition of human mysticism, velvet painting, which the artist borrows to surpassing effect. His paintings' summer nocturnal ritual is the covenant of the bug light, the card deck, and the six-pack. The glistening beads and shimmering surfaces of Shore's corpulent, scantily clad figures, barely discernable in the night shadows, are hard-won, hard-evaporated sweat.” Read more about the other finalists.

July 13, 2007

Torture survivor depicts Khmer Rouge's murderous legacy

Sopheng Cheang in The Irrawaddy: "The Khmer Rouge's murderous legacy has been depicted in art by a survivor of an infamous torture center run by the radical communist regime, responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians.Vann Nath, 62, opened a showing Thursday at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centerin Phnom Penh. The exhibition includes 10 paintings portraying the notorious S-21 prison, also known as Tuol Sleng." In February, Vann Nath received the Hellman/Hammett human rights award. Read more.

NYTimes Friday art reviews

Milton Avery watercolors and Sarah Peters drawings are reviewed in the NYTimes today.

Roberta Smith on Sarah Peters: “In her first solo show, Sarah Peters breathes life into an obsession with the art and history of colonial America. The breath comes from a fidgety crosshatch technique rendered in pencil and black ballpoint pen that gives her images both a gauzy drift and an almost fingernails-on-blackboard screechiness.” 'Sarah Peters:Being American’ Winkleman Gallery, 637 West 27th Street, through July 21.

Martha Schwendener on Milton Avery: “The watercolors here span more than 30 years and dip into genres from landscape, seascape and cityscape to portraiture, still life and abstraction. They also reveal Avery’s resistance to fully adopting or rejecting abstraction during its mid-20th-century heyday while at the same time trying, as he once said, to ‘eliminate and simplify, leaving apparently nothing but color and form’….All of this argues for the medium’s resurgence — although it is hard to imagine, in the age of digital cameras.” ‘MAGICAL MEANS: Milton Avery and Watercolor’ Knoedler & Company, 19 East 70th Street, through Aug. 10. Read more.

Denver hosts first exhibition from the Clyfford Still estate

Kyle MacMillan in The Denver Post reports: “Denver was chosen in 2004 as the repository for the Clyfford Still estate and future home of a museum devoted to this significant post-World War II painter….The artist retained many of his own works in part because he was something of a curmudgeon and had an often stormy relationship with museums, galleries and collectors - a situation that helps explain why he never gained the fame of many of his peers…. 'Clyfford Still Unveiled: Selections From the Estate,’ a small but powerful exhibition that includes 13 prototypical drawings and paintings opens Saturday at the Denver Art Museum,” Read more.
"Clyfford Still Unveiled: Selections from the Estate" Denver Art Museum, through September 30. See James Kalm's video experience of the show on YouTube.

July 12, 2007

Abstract painting in NYC: two group shows open tonight

Late Liberties, John Connelly Presents
625 West 27th Street, 212-337-9563; July 12 - August 24, 2007
Late Liberties is organized by artist and curator Augusto Arbizo in collaboration with John Connelly. “Much maligned and critiqued - and often used as strategy for conceptually based work - abstraction has been largely banished to the sidelines by an art world enthralled by photography, installation, animation and romantic figuration." Works include soft and hardedge paintings, gestural and `expressionistic' abstractions, as well as shaped and chromatically engaged `painted' sculpture. Artists: Augusto Arbizo, Tauba Auerbach, Jeff Elrod, Kim Fisher, Dana Frankfort, Daniel Hesidence, Alex Kwartler, Carrie Moyer, Elizabeth Neel, Raha Raissnia, Wendy White, Michael Zahn
Read more at ArtCal.

Heralds of Creative Anachronism, D'Amelio Terras
525 West 22nd Street, 212-352-9460; July 12 - August 10, 2007
“Can the recent resurgence of abstraction be simply attributed to a reaction against an overload of romantic figuration or is there a renewed need for a universal language of this genre? The exhibition is a light-hearted attempt to create a movement, even a temporary one, for the duration of this exhibition.” Artists: Joe Bradley, Daniel Hesidence, Chris Martin, Roger White Read more at ArtCal.

Pre-digital perspective

Roderick Conway Morris writes in the International Herald Tribune: “For most of his career Piero della Francesca pursued painting and mathematics with equal success. In his treatise "De prospectiva pingendi" (On Painting Perspective) he chided his fellow artists for not mastering the rules of scientific perspective." Recent conservation of several works by Piero have stimulated the exhibition, “Piero della Francesca and the Italian Courts,” Arezzo's Museo Statale d'Arte Medievale e Moderna, Arezzo, Italy, with subsections at nearby Monterchi and Sansepolcro, which brings together the largest number of Piero's works we are ever likely to see in the same vicinity. Through July 22. Read more.

July 11, 2007

Watching Nightwatch

Nightwatching, a Peter Greenaway film that explores the circumstances around Rembrandt's creation of his famed painting The Nightwatch, will join the lineup at the Toronto International Film Festival. The festival runs Sept. 6-15. See the dark and moody trailer on You Tube.

Rezoning leaves artists in the lurch...again

Andrew Lightman in the Patriot Ledger tells the all-too-familiar story of artists being kicked out of their studios in Massachusetts: “The art colony came to life as the town suffered an economic downturn in the late 1980s, when the building lost its key tenants. Attracted by the expansive rooms, high ceilings and large windows, artists turned the top two floors into cheap studio space. At its peak, 120 artists filled the top of the Codman Building, Lathrop said. Now only about 40 artists still work in the building, some fleeing last year when developer Fred Kiley of the Quincy-based Heritage Co. bought the property. Even more have left after town meeting voted in May to rezone the building, paving the way for the luxury housing.” Read more.

July 10, 2007

Richard Long's muddy markmaking

In the Guardian, Adrian Searle visits Richard Long’s show at the Scottish National Galllery of Modern Art: “Lately, Long has begun drawing, not on walls or paper, but on things he has found along the way - bits of driftwood and tree trunk, Berber tent pegs from a Moroccan market, odd-shaped wooden boards used by children to practise writing verses from the Qur'an, scraps of rusted and sun-bleached metal from Agadir. Using his fingers, inked in white Cornish china clay, brown Bristol Avon mud, earthy pigments from the dyer's market in the Marrakech souq, Long decorates these fragments with rows of oval fingerprints, with his characteristic spirals and circles.” Read more. “Richard Long: Walking and Marking” Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, through October 21.

Julian Schnabel nominated for Gucci filmmaking award

In Variety, Nick Vivarelli reports: “Julian Schnabel is among the nominees announced by the Gucci Group and the Venice Film Festival for the Gucci Group Award, dedicated to personalities outside the movie industry who have made an outstanding contribution to a film. Schnabel, winner of this year’s director nod at Cannes for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” -- his third foray from painting into filmmaking -- will vie for the honor with three other artists and a journo.” Read more.

July 9, 2007

Blood paintings

In the Hartford Courant, Matt Eagan writes about the new show at Real Art Ways: "Jordan Eagles uses animal blood from slaughterhouses to create his art. He knows how this sounds, but those expecting the art equivalent of the "Saw" movies will be disappointed. This is not a horror show. 'It's not designed to be shocking," Eagles says. "I'm dealing with something that is elemental but is something we rarely see. Unless you wound yourself, you're not accustomed to seeing blood or thinking about blood and what it means....' At Thursday's opening, members of Friends of Animals, an animal-rights advocacy group, protested outside the exhibit." Read more.

Beauty show in Atlanta

Debra Wolf reviews "Luxe, Calme et Volupte" in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Order and beauty form the organizing principle in an engaging new painting exhibition at Marcia Wood Gallery curated by artist and writer Joanne Mattera. She borrows her concept from 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire and his poem 'L'Invitation au Voyage' ....Using Baudelaire and Matisse as a springboard for contemporary expression, Mattera's dual premise for themes of duality is both clever and effective. Mattera's selections are smart and pleasing in a show that combines control and creativity, visual and tactile harmony, and individual refrains of luxe, calme et volupte." Read more. "Luxe, Calme et Volupte," Marcia Wood Gallery, 263 Walker St., Atlanta through Aug. 25.

Ann Philbin at the Hammer Museum collects paper

According to Jori Finkel in the NY Times, “When Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum Director Ann Philbin and Chief Curator Gary Garrels started building a collection, they chose to concentrate on drawings, photographs and works on paper, leaving the more expensive fields of painting and sculpture to play a supporting role…The goal is to be financially savvy ‘without sacrificing quality,’ said Ms. Philbin, who was previously head of the Drawing Center in New York. ‘Unless you have millions and millions of dollars at your disposal, the art market doesn’t allow an institution to put together a noteworthy paintings and sculpture collection.’” Read more.

July 7, 2007

Frida Kahlo retrospective in Mexico City

Elisabeth Malkin writes in the NYTimes: “This year, as Mexico celebrates the centenary of Kahlo’s birth, the largest retrospective ever of her work attempts to look beyond what Mexicans call Fridamania. The result is a rich view of her art and her life, one that broadens the perspective on her career beyond the narrow, cultish view that has at times threatened to obscure her work. For the majority who know Kahlo’s painting only from the movie version of her life or the unmistakable power of her face on a T-shirt, the exhibition that opened here last month at the Palacio de Bellas Artes may come as a surprise.”Read more. Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico through Aug. 19, at Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacán through Sept. 30.

Martin Kippenberger: champion for insincerity

Christian Viveros-Fauné in The Village Voice: “A balky, buffoonish commentary on the social function of art, Kippenberger's one-take, slapdash paintings mock the market and the approval of juries and art critics alike without ever acknowledging their near-total dependence on the art world's closed system of meanings for their deepest, even funniest significance.” Read more. Martin Kippenberger: Preis Bilder,May 10-July 27, 1018 Art , 1018 Madison Avenue, New York, NY.

A Brit’s view of street artist Banksy

Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones: “Banksy has achieved something original, something uniquely of our time: found a visual style for self-congratulatory smugness and given a look to well-heeled soi-disant radicalism. So that's who likes him: self-proclaimed enemies of the state, fermenting in their own self-righteousness.” Read more.

July 6, 2007

David Humphrey riffs on linear connections at EFA Gallery

Stephen Maine writes about group show "Horizon" in the NY Sun: "The show is a blast, and a funny send-up of the inevitable catch-all summer group show that commercial galleries struggle to repackage under curatorial cover." Curator David Humphrey,a painter represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery, suggests that there is a linguistic analogy lurking here. As units of meaning within a larger structure, the paintings function like words in a runon sentence. Read more. Arists included: Bill Adams, Diti Almog, Ellen Altfest, Louise Belcourt, Katherine Bradford, Benjamin Butler, Dana Carlson, Jennifer Coates, Adam Cvijanovic, Angela Dufresne, Nicole Eisenman, Rochelle Feinstein, Jeff Gaunt, Catherine Howe, Sharon Horvath, James Hyde, Susan Jennings, Dorota Kolodziejczy, Bill Komoski, Julian Kreimer, Michael Lazarus, Medrie Macphee, Suzanne McClelland, Elizaveta Meksin, Santi Moix, Donna Moylan, Laura Newman, Gary Peterson, Alexander Ross, Sally Ross, Frank Schroder, Team SHaG, Kate Shephard, Elena Sisto, Rebecca Smith, Eva Struble, Len Tsvetkov, Stanley Whitney, Paula Wilson and others.
EFA Gallery
EFA Studio Center, 323 West 39th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10018 between 8th and 9th Avenues. June 1-July 27, 2007

July 5, 2007

Wrangling over Rudolf Stingel

Leslie Camhi in the Village Voice: “Zigzagging between figuration and abstraction, his disparate oeuvre is filled with conceptual antics, optical pleasures, and abject traces of his melancholy presence.... At times visually dazzling, his work is also strangely off-putting—flirting on the one hand with decay, and on the other with pure decoration….There's an emperor's-new-clothes-ish quality to some of the work, where the artist's radical economy of means (a constant) falls short of the desired effect. But the finest pieces are both conceptually challenging and optically enthralling.” Read more.

Roberta Smith in the NYTimes: This show stands a good chance of fulfilling that old avant-garde imperative 'épater le bourgeois' — shock the bourgeoisie. Some people may walk through it in five minutes, scoffing. But I doubt that anyone can move fast enough to evade its challenges to conventional ideas of painting, taste and progress." Read more.

Charlie Finch on artnet: "Most of Stingel’s stuff, however you want to justify his process (carving, etc.), is basically a throwaway, as perhaps intended. You have seen it all before, and if you want this kind of process, let me refer you to Jay DeFeo. In the press packet, Whit curator Chrissie Iles grandiosely compares Stingel’s wallpaper to the recently reopened Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Is the Taj Mahal safe from obsequious comparison?" Read more.

Lance Esplund in New York Sun: "Have the Whitney, its curators, and its favored contemporary artists literally run out of ideas? Or, having built an institution and multiple careers around the death of art and painting, are they now so stuck in the cliché, so afraid to do anything that may suggest that contemporary art is not dead, that they are actually willing to ride that cliché for another five decades just to save face?" Read more.

Ariella Budick in Newsday: "After a career of leaving only cryptic traces, Stingel suddenly decided to portray himself in literal detail....Two decades of lovely vagueness has apparently primed the artist's thirst to be understood. Perhaps he will one day find an equally evocative way of being explicit, but for now he makes me miss the mystery." Read more.

More reviews to come.

July 4, 2007

PaintersNYC creates forum for snarky debate

Ana Finel Honigman in the Gaurdian arts blog: "Every month since November 2005, the blog's two anonymous chairs have posted handsome, medium-sized reproductions of paintings by an artist who can be found in Manhattan. Their selections of images are consistently representative of each artist's style and the comments they summon up are directed more to the artists' whole careers than the sample images selected....Brutal, honest and catty - no self-respecting artist should miss the chance to air their views on the art world's sharpest forum for critical debate." Read more. Go to PaintersNYC

Image at top: Fairfield Porter, the last image posted in 2010.

July 3, 2007

London's National Army Museum defends painter Gerald Laing's right to draw his own conclusions

Patrick Sawer in the Evening Standard: "The National Army Museum is at the centre of a political row after it acquired a painting that pins the blame for the 7 July bombings on the Iraq war.... The painting, by leading British pop artist Gerald Laing, will be unveiled before the second anniversary of the suicide attacks that killed 52 people....The decision by the museum - which is funded by the Ministry of Defence and is the foremost keeper of the Army's history - will be regarded as a snub to the Government, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair in particular." Read more.

July 2, 2007

Flemish father of landscape painting resurrected in Madrid

The Museo del Prado in Madrid has organized an exhibition dedicated to Joachim Patinir, a 16th century Flemish artist, contemporary of Bosch, who has gradually slipped into oblivion. He is considered to be the father of landscape painting. The exhibition, titled " Patinir and the Invention of Landscape", runs from 3 July - 7 October 2007 Reviews will be posted as they become available.Read more on ArtLine Romania.

Another tale of Getty obsessiveness

Suzanne Muchnic in the LA Times chronicles the Getty's preparation for the European drawings exhibition, the first at the museum's new drawings galleries. "Think sycamore bark." Read more.

July 1, 2007

Barry Hoggard and James Wagner edit ArtCal, a good site that focuses on underknown galleries and artists in Chelsea, Williamsburg and the NYC area. Images of the exhibitions are posted with all the listings. "All content on this site is at our whim. An absence of a show does not necessarily mean we're not interested in seeing it." Check it out.